Patricia Kaersenhout, The Soul of Salt (2016)
Section: Out of Control Room
Within the Caribbean tradition there is a slave legend according to which enslaved people refrained from eating salt, because they thought they would become lighter and could fly back to Africa. In spite of cultural differences, the widespread tale of the ‘Flying Africans’ reveals a common origin and a shared experience. It expresses the ability of people to flee in their imagination, which comes from the desire for freedom.
In the video, the mountain is blessed by a spiritual leader from the African continent. Visitors can take some salt home and dissolve it in water as a symbol for dissolving the pain of the past. A group of refugees sings a nineteenth-century slave song during the ceremony. This shows a connection between enslaved bodies transported over the ocean in the past and the contemporary refugee crisis.
In 2017 the artist flew back to Gorée Island in Senegal with some of the blessed salt, and released it at Door of No Return, a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade, to grant peace to the souls of the ancestors.
The work is on view at Palazzo Forcella De Seta.